Volleyball Camp Warm-Up Game: Sharks and Minnows

Ahhh, the classic “Sharks and Minnows” game.

If you went to volleyball camps as a child, you probably played this game at least once.

But the hard thing about playing games as a kid, is that you don’t always remember them as an adult!

Let me give you a quick refresher on this classic warm-up game as you start to prepare for summer volleyball camps.

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Being Coached As An Adult: What I Learned From The Other Side

After coaching for so many years, I’ve found my “style.”

I would describe it as supportive, patient, joking, laid back, cooperative, and open-minded.

Those are all positives, in my mind. 

Of course we always want to believe that we’re the epitome of what a “good” coach should be, and it can be hard to assess flaws in our style.

As coaches, we’re used to getting our way. We run the show!

But what about when you become the instructee?

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Why I Recommend Beach Volleyball For Faster Skill Development

Summer is almost here, and this is ALWAYS the time of year when I am asked what players should do to prepare for school volleyball tryouts.

There are plenty of options out there….

  • Summer camps

  • Private lessons

  • Skill clinics

  • Open gyms

While all of these will likely improve a player’s skill level, physical fitness, coordination, and mental understanding of the game, there’s one big opportunity that many families tend to overlook: beach volleyball.

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Teaching “Vision” Using Rock, Paper, Scissors

It’s easy to tell your players to look on the other side of the net… However, if they don’t learn WHEN to look, or if they don’t PRACTICE looking, they’ll likely struggle in this process, and likely give up because they just don’t get it.

The beauty of this drill is that you only need to run it once to teach the concept. So although it may go slow while they’re learning, it is very important to use 15 minutes of practice to run this drill.

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What Volleyball Players Wish They Could Say To Their Coaches (And Parents!)

Recently, I posted a question on the Instagram Story for my account for volleyball coaches, @getthepancake. I asked: 

“Players: What’s something you wish your coaches or parents knew?”

The range of answers highlights just how unique our athletes are, and I think the players provide some great insight. 

When reading this article, please keep in mind the following: “Perception is more important than reality. If someone perceives something to be true, it is more important than if it is in fact true.”

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Easy Drill To Teach Your Passers To Read The Hitter

According to Coach Karch Kiraly, (U.S. Women's National Volleyball Team Head Coach) the most important skill in volleyball is to learn to read the ball.

This is one of those answers which is simple in theory, but very, very challenging in practice. You can’t just TELL players to read the ball. Heck, half of them probably wouldn’t even know what you meant (and of course, they’d just nod their head and go with it until you called them out).

In order to play volleyball well, you need to anticipate where the ball will go. This has recently become a point of pride for coaches who yell at their teams for diving (they wouldn’t need to dive if they read the ball correctly). Which… they’re not wrong! But we need to make sure we teach players to read and anticipate before we expect them to eliminate any dives or rolls.

This drill teaches players how to read the hitter through simple, repetitive plays that draw attention to movement patterns, helping players learn faster.

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Coaching Anxious Players: 5 Steps to Confident ATHLETES

The hesitation. The apprehension. The questions. The tears.

These are all fairly NEW to me as a coach, despite beginning my coaching career over a decade ago.

Nearly all players can handle being told how to correct their form without bursting into tears and making you feel like a horrible person.

But there’s a shift happening. I’m not entirely sure of the reason WHY (though I have some guesses), but once I started making adjustments to my coaching style, I was able to see players settle into the comfort of learning and actually contribute to their team.

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Volleyball Coaching Book Review: The Volleyball Coaching Bible

I couldn’t WAIT to start coaching volleyball when I was in school. I had helped with camps throughout high school and wanted nothing more than to just finish school so I could coach. I guess I’m obsessed.

But once I finally GOT a coaching job, a wave of incompetence seemed to rush over me.

I literally had no idea what to do. Now, as many of you know, this specific feeling is precisely what led to me writing Coaching Volleyball: A Survival Guide For Your First Season.

And while I obviously recommend my book for new coaches looking for actionable tasks and guidance in their first season as a volleyball coach, I wanted to share my thoughts on the first book I bought when I was looking for how to get started coaching a decade ago.

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Front Row Progressions: Train Transitioning, Hitting, Blocking, and Setting in 20 Minutes

OK, I’m making BIG claims for this drill, but I’m ready to back those claims up!

See, I’m really big on PROGRESSIONS. Progressions start simple, add small pieces of information, and ultimately lead to BIG gains.

The best part about this drill I’m about to share with you is that it will work for ANY age group (even the littles who can’t get their fingers above the net) and your players will LOVE it.

This is also a great volleyball camp drill, for those reasons and more.

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What to Expect During an Interview to Coach Volleyball

Coaching volleyball is an amazing experience that many players look forward to having once they leave school. Whether you played high school volleyball, college volleyball, or maybe you only played in PE, you CAN get a job coaching volleyball if you prepare well enough.

There are many challenges that come with being a coach if you are not prepared to do your homework. Even experienced players will need to stay up-to-date on the latest teaching strategies in order to impress directors and get the job.

This article includes tips on how to prepare for an interview to coach volleyball and lists possible questions you’ll be asked during that interview.

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Volleyball Drill Classics: The Butterfly Drill

In today’s drill, I’m going to share the first “Butterfly Drill” I learned as a player, and explain how you can change it using variations (my favorite thing to do).

The butterfly drill is named after the shape of the action. That one took me a long time to figure out, but it is now glaringly obvious.

Essentially, butterfly drills are meant to keep the action rolling, with player-initiated contacts, constant movement, high energy, and LOTS of running (so fyi, this is a great conditioning drill that still incorporates a lot of volleyball).

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Keeping and Understanding Volleyball Stats: The 5 (ish) Basics

Volleyball stats offer a (mostly) objective look at player and team performance, and can be vital to helping determine appropriate areas of focus for future training, determining optimal rotations, and providing a broad look at team performance overall.

Looking at individual stats can help players understand their strengths and weaknesses, analyze match performance, and in some instances, even help them get recruited.

Although stats SEEM intimidating… they don’t have to be! Coaches and parents new to volleyball should not be intimidated by the overwhelming spreadsheets, computations, and volleyball jargon common when discussing volleyball stats.

I’m going to break down some of the more basic statistics for you, so you can feel more confident coaching volleyball, watching volleyball, and talking volleyball.

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Volleyball Stats for Success: Using a Game Graph/Trend Line

Tracking volleyball stats is one of those tasks which feels overwhelming to start, but once you get the hang of it, you find that you can actually learn a lot from them.

However, one of the disadvantages to tracking stats during a game (particularly hand written) is that you don’t get the see the MOMENTUM of the game. Volleyball matches can be determined by a simple run of points at just the right time, and those critical moments are impossible to track simply by looking back through your stats sheet.

Enter: The Game Graph.

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Volleyball Drill Classics: Queen of The Court

If there’s one volleyball drill that just about EVERY volleyball player will play throughout their career, it’s Queen of the Court (or King of the Court/Monarch of the Court depending on who you’re coaching).

Queen of the court is a top volleyball drill because it…

  • is fast-paced

  • is FUN

  • is competitive

  • is good as a warm-up drill or to end practice with

  • can be played with as few as 8 players, and up to 16 (or more) per court

If this sounds like a must-have for your coaching binder, I’d have to agree with you. Not only is this a good volleyball drill for practice, you can use it at open gyms and volleyball camps!

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6 Small Group Volleyball Drills: Perfect for Holidays and Spring Break Practices!

Let’s just cut to the chase here. You won’t have perfect attendance at every practice.

And while that can be frustrating (especially for the well-prepared coach who planned practice down to the minute, with perfectly selected drills based on numbers), it’s a reality that we need to deal with.

Basketball practice. Spring Break. Family trips….

These all tend to make planning a high-quality practice a challenge.

UNLESS! You have these six drills in your back pocket.

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Freeball/Downball Drill: A Fast-Paced Scrimmage Alternative to End Practice

Once we start to get towards the middle/end of the season, it can feel like you’ve been running the same drills over and over again!

Add a fresh new drill to the end of your practice! This is one of my FAVORITE drills to end practice with, because it is high intensity, competitive, fast moving, and mentally challenging for the players.

This drill works best for 6 vs 6 situations (either against your own team or with a similar team you would normally scrimmage against), but can be modified to 5 vs 5 if needed.

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Get Your Team To Bounce Back From A Bad Volleyball Tournament or Match

Let’s face it…. Playing poorly all day, whether it’s an important match or a big tournament weekend, takes its toll on even the most confident coaches and players.

It’s no fun to watch a meltdown happen right in front of your eyes.

Although you may not be happy with how your team performed, there are a couple of things you can do to get your team back on track.

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3-Day Volleyball Tournament Packing List For Coaches, Players, and Family Members

Packing for a one day tournament can be stressful enough, but extend that to three days and you’ve got a LOT of packing to do.

Add in crazy facility requirements, long distance travel, and bored siblings who’d rather be outside, and you’ve got quite the adventure in front of you!

I’ve had my fair share of travel tournaments, but I’ve also enlisted the help of other coaches who are a part of the Get The Pancake family to create this list of what to pack for a volleyball tournament.

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Using Visualization to Combat Tough Game Situations

No matter what our team’s normal skill level is, sometimes there are just games (or even full days!) where our athletes are just…. off.

It is probably worthwhile for you to dig into those reasons in an attempt to stop this situation from happening in the future. However, since it is usually a large, variable combination of things that may or may not have a possible solution, today I want to talk about what to do after you recognize this in your team!

I want to talk about visualization in volleyball, especially because it helped me when I was playing and still helps to this day. It’s likely that not EVERYONE will buy-in… And that’s ok!

But I want to make sure your athletes have the right tools in their toolkit to pull themselves out of a slump if possible.

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4-Minute Team Warmup Idea For Volleyball Tournaments

You’ve put in HOURS of practice, have gone over every rotation at least two dozen times, and think you’ve worked out the best lineup for your first tournament.

You make sure everyone knows where to go, when to be there, and what is (and isn’t!) allowed in the facility.

Everyone gets to the court relatively on time, and the girls start passing the ball around until it’s time to get started. And suddenly you realize… You don’t have a warmup planned.

This warm-up gets everyone moving and working primarily on the skills they’ll need in their main position, and I’ve liked how well it has worked with a few of the teams I’ve coached in the past.

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